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Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a Family Holiday?

Dubai or Abu Dhabi for a Family Holiday | The Vacation Builder

One of the most popular questions when travelling to the UAE with kids is; where is better for a family holiday; Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Here we take a look at Dubai or Abu Dhabi for Family Holiday. Read on to find out which is best suited for the whole family.

Dubai is a better family holiday than Abu Dhabi, but only just. Hotels and things to do in Dubai beats Abu Dhabi, however, Abu Dhabi has some great culture spots.

Read on to find out the pros and the cons of the two holiday hotspots. However, don’t rule out visiting both of these incredible cities whilst your in the UAE as they’re only 2 hours apart. One thing is certain, whichever you end up choosing for your family holiday, you won’t be short of luxurious and jaw-dropping things to do.

Flying to Dubai vs Abu Dhabi with Kids

Abu Dhabi or Dubai with kids | The Vacation Builder

Let’s start as we begin, with the flight. Flights from many UK airports go to Dubai for an average of £350 per person; depending on time of year. Flights to Abu Dhabi average around the same but are less frequent and also have less availability from UK airports when comparing to Dubai.

As for the airlines; the most popular are Emirates, Qantas and Qatar Air. All three fly frequently to Abu Dhabi and Dubai and all provide excellent service.

For more information on how much flights to Dubai and Abu Dhabi are read this.

Overall, Dubai wins this round with more frequently available flights from the UK than to Abu Dhabi; but there isn’t much in it.

Things to do for Families in Dubai vs Abu Dhabi

Things to do in abu dhabi vs dubai with kids

Now this is an interesting question. Dubai definitely has more to do than Abu Dhabi for kids, BUT, Abu Dhabi has more consolidated areas with family entertainment. This means travelling time and transportation costs are reduced.

Abu Dhabi is home to the famous Yas Island, which houses Warner Brothers Land, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld, Fun Works, The Emirates Park Zoo and more. We’ve wrote an article on Yas Islands Best Attractions which you can check out for more information.

There are more good things to do with kids in Abu Dhabi based on Yas Corniche, at The Malls or around The Marina too but the best place to be with children is Yas Island.

Dubai on the other hand, has more things to do with kids than Abu Dhabi. The only downside to this is that attractions are not as consolidated as Abu Dhabi’s Yas Island. Some of the best attractions for children in Dubai include Legoland, VR Park (Dubai Mall), IMG World of Adventure and The Lost World at Atlantis.

For a more detailed breakdown of things to do in Dubai with kids check out this article.

Overall this round is tied between the two. Dubai has more attractions for kids but Abu Dhabi presents more easy access to families.

Family Hotels in Dubai vs Abu Dhabi?

Family hotels in abu dhabi vs dubai

There aren’t many rivals to Dubai when it comes to family hotels and Abu Dhabi isn’t going to change that. Abu Dhabi does offer some lovely family hotels such as The Rixos Saadiyat Island and Shangri-La. However Dubai has ten times the options for family stays plus the quality is second to none.

Try The Atlantis, Soffitel The Palm, Le Meridien Mina Seyahi or JA Palm Tree Court to name but a few.

The facilities for children at most Dubai resorts would rival anything in Florida and so Dubai is a clear winner of this round.

Beaches in Dubai vs Abu Dhabi

Beaches in abu dhabi vs dubai

One of the main reasons to take a vacation in the UAE will be the endless beaches, warm clear waters of the Arabian Sea and incredible service on offer at most beachfronts.

The soft golden sands and large tide less beaches make it a safe play-haven for toddlers. Dubai has man made beaches of The Palm Jumeirah and then there is Jumeirah Beach Residences just to name a couple.

Abu Dhabi on the other hand has Yas Island beach, Saadiyat Island Beach and Al Bateen beach. All are as good as the other in their own different ways but who has the best beaches? Abu Dhabi or Dubai?

Dubai vs Abu Dhabi for a family holiday | The Vacation Builder

There is one major flaw to swimming in the sea in Dubai; Jellyfish! There seems to be more here than in Abu Dhabi. So if you want to be happy that your teenagers can go for a swim without being stung then Abu Dhabi would be my personal choice.

When it comes to beach amenities, Dubai is the winner. There are endless motorised and non motorised sports available at most of Dubais beaches. Cafe’s and Restaurants line the beach fronts, as do play areas for small children. Abu Dhabi has a similar feel; albeit with less choice and frequency.

Overall we are going to call this round a tie. Dubai has great amenities but a jellyfish issue and Abu Dhabi has safer beaches but with less facilities. There are further dedicated posts to finding the best beaches in Abu Dhabi and the best beaches in Dubai.

Culture in Dubai vs Abu Dhabi

Dubai vs Abu Dhabi for a Family Holiday

For those families wishing to experience a bit of culture whilst on holiday, check out the many historical tourist attractions both Abu Dhabi and Dubai have to offer.

Family vacations in the UAE don’t have to be just about theme parks and beaches. Children start to develop their curious side from a young age and what better way to open their eyes than at one of Dubai’s Museums or at the world famous Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi Grand Mosque | The Vacation Builder

When in Dubai; hit Dubai Creek and take a tour on one of the Dhow Boats or grab a cab to the Souk Madinat Jumeirah for more boat tours on the lagoon and traditional Arabian market stalls.

Dubai also has fantastic museums such as Sharjah Museum of Islamic Civilisation, OliOli (amazing for kids) or the Museum of Illusions.

Whilst in Abu Dhabi make sure you visit the Grand Mosque, Heritage Village Museum or the Louvre. Abu Dhabi may be the capital of the UAE with Dubai being the capital of tourism but surprisingly Dubai wins this round hands down for the best cultural attractions for families.

Family Friendly Brunches

Brunches in Dubai | The Vacation Builder

For those who have already had the privilege of experiencing brunch in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you will know that not many places in the world can rival the two. However, bruch is usually a bubbles fuelled feast at noon on a Friday. For those travelling with kids, there are family friendly brunches too.

In Dubai most brunches have plenty for children but the real kid friendly ones are at Bread Street Kitchen, Chef’s Brunch and The City Brunch. Abu Dhabi is a more business related city and brunches which will entertain kids are less but there are still a couple well worth visiting. The best by far is the one at The Terrace on the Corniche.

Check out this blog post for more on the best family friendly brunches in the UAE.

Dubai or Abu Dhabi for Family Holiday?

Dubai or Abu Dhabi for Families? | The Vacation Builder

Well we’ve just about covered it all. from flights to beaches and culture to brunch. Dubai wins most of the rounds but Abu Dhabi wasn’t easily beaten. If your in the area for a while, Abu Dhabi is definitely worth a visit and offers something a little different to Dubai. Maybe you’ve been to Dubai and fancy a change, or you want to take the kids to Yas Waterworld or Warner Brothers land.

Whichever option you choose you’re sure not to be disappointed. Think of it as a free hit; Dubai being a 5 out of 5 ad Abu Dhabi getting a 4. Not bad options hey!


Thank you for reading our post on Dubai vs Abu Dhabi for a family holiday. We hope that this article has given you the information you require for perfect family vacation in the UAE.

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